For the first time ever, Ohio is officially declaring Juneteenth (a celebration recognizing the emancipation of American slaves) a state-sanctioned holiday.
And while many believe the Buckeye State could have made this move sooner, it means that this year’s Juneteenth celebrations are set to be bigger and more energetic than ever.
“Black people spend our whole lives celebrating holidays that weren’t created with us in mind, like the 4th of July, like St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, there’s Kwanzaa, but that’s not something we get off work for,” said Kiara Yakita, founder of the BLMCO. “So to have a recognized holiday that’s our own, it’s amazing.”
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The event will see Goodale Park come alive with eating, drinking, socializing, and celebration. It will include a full slate of activities, including performances, vendors, food, and more.
Guests can expect live music, speakers, an interactive dance session, and even a Wellness Area that will provide COVID vaccines (courtesy of Equitas health), STD/STI, and HIV testing, plus a mental health and wellness booth staffed by local mental health professionals. Vendors such as Purple Savage Apparel, Everything Bags Boutique, Daniel Morris Gallery, and many others will be on hand, in addition to food from Zone 5 BBQ and more.
While this year’s Juneteenth Jubilee will no doubt be a fun-filled experience, it also provides an important opportunity to share African American culture with Columbus at large, according to Yakita.
“We don’t want it to be just a time to get together and share a meal,” she said. “It’s invigorating, and it’s really important to be able to share that culture with people, especially the children, especially the younger generation.”
And even though a celebration of specifically African American culture will be front and center at the Juneteenth festival, BLMCO is making it known that all people—regardless of race, sex, or anything else—are fully welcome to take part.
“That’s one thing I want to make sure people know. Yes, this is a festival that’s celebrating our ancestors, but everyone is welcome, and we want everyone to enjoy the culture and practices that we have to share,” Yakita said.